Posts for: June, 2014
If you think cavities are an inevitable part of childhood, think again; tooth decay, which is actually an infectious disease caused by bacteria, is completely preventable. This is a good thing, because tooth decay can be painful and interfere with a child's ability to eat, speak, and focus in school. Parents have a big role to play in helping their children's teeth stay healthy. Here are some things you can do:
Establish an oral hygiene routine. Good oral hygiene practices should start as soon as the first tooth appears. An infant's teeth should be wiped with a clean, damp washcloth each day. Starting at age 2, a brushing routine should be established using a soft-bristled, child-sized brush and just a smear of fluoride toothpaste. Children need help brushing until around age 6, when they have the dexterity to take over the job themselves — and learn to floss.
Limit sugary drinks and snacks. Sugar is the favorite food of decay-causing oral bacteria. In the process of breaking down that sugar, the bacteria produce tooth-eroding acid. Too much exposure to this acid will leave a small hole, or cavity, in the tooth and create an entry point for the bacteria to reach deeper inside the tooth. Beverages that are sugary AND acidic, such as sodas and sports drinks, are particularly harmful.
Make sure your child sees the dentist regularly. Routine exams and cleanings are a must for good oral health. Even if your child is doing a good job maintaining an oral hygiene routine, there are places where bacterial plaque can build up beyond the reach of a toothbrush and floss. These areas require professional attention. We can also give your child an in-office fluoride treatment to strengthen enamel and reverse very early decay. In some cases, we will recommend dental sealants to smooth out the little grooves in a child's back teeth. This is a quick and easy in-office procedure that will keep out food debris and bacteria for years. And, of course, we can monitor your child's dental development.
If you have any questions about tooth decay or the development of your child's teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children” and “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Q: Why should I consider cosmetic gum surgery to improve my smile?
A: If you’re looking to enhance the natural beauty of your smile, you may have heard about various cosmetic procedures that can improve the appearance of your teeth. But don’t forget about the other, equally important element of a bright, appealing smile: the healthy-looking and well-proportioned gums that surround and support those pearly whites. Many times, cosmetic flaws are caused by gum tissue that’s covering too much or too little of the tooth’s surface; in other situations, the gum line is uneven, and covers some teeth more than others. Cosmetic gum surgery can successfully remedy these imperfections.
Q: How exactly does cosmetic gum surgery resolve smile defects?
A: There are several minor surgical procedures that may be recommended, depending on what’s best for your individual situation. For example, some people have a “gummy smile,” where teeth seem excessively “short” because they’re covered with too much gum tissue. In this case, a “crown lengthening” procedure can be performed, where gum tissue (and perhaps a small amount of bone tissue) is removed; this makes the teeth appear in better proportion to the smile. In the opposite case — where the teeth appear too “long” due to receding (shrinking) gums, tissue can be grafted (added on) to the gums. Gum recontouring procedures are used to re-shape the gum line for a more even, pleasing effect.
Q: Are there non-cosmetic reasons for having gum surgery?
A: Yes. A tooth with too much of its root area exposed is often more prone to decay, and may become extremely sensitive to hot or cold. Covering an exposed root with gum tissue is just one non-cosmetic reason why gum surgery may be necessary.
Q: What’s involved in gum surgery — do I have to go to the hospital?
A: Cosmetic gum surgery is normally performed in the dental office, and usually involves only a local anesthetic. However, if you need a deeper level of relaxation, other forms of sedation may be available. In some cases, lasers can be used instead of conventional surgical tools to remove excess gum tissue. If you need a tissue graft, the grafting material can be taken from your own mouth, or may come from donor tissue that is processed to ensure your safety. Gum surgery is minimally invasive, and most people experience only minor discomfort.
If you’d like to know whether cosmetic gum surgery could help you get the smile you’ve always wanted, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Gummy Smiles” and “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
Porcelain laminate veneers are one of the innovative techniques dentistry has developed for restoring teeth to improve their color and shape so that they look as good as or better than the originals.
What are porcelain veneers? Porcelain is a ceramic material that is baked in a high-heat oven until it becomes glass-like. Your grandmother's antique china teacups are probably made of porcelain. Dental porcelains are especially made to perfectly mimic the color, reflectivity and translucency of natural tooth enamel. A veneer is a covering or shell, a false front; dental porcelains can be fashioned into veneers used to restore the enamel surfaces of teeth.
What is a laminate? A laminate is a structure created by uniting two or more layers of material together. Dental porcelain laminate veneers refer to the combination of tooth enamel bonding material and porcelain veneer.
When are porcelain laminate veneers used? Porcelain veneers are used to enhance the color of stained, darkened, decayed and heavily restored teeth. They are also used to: correct spaces between teeth; straighten slightly rotated teeth; correct problems in tooth shape and some bite problems. They can be good solutions for broken teeth or teeth that have been worn by habitual tooth grinding.
What is the process of placing the veneers? Room generally needs to be created to place a veneer; generally requiring about half a millimeter of reduction of tooth enamel. Artistic dental laboratory technicians fabricate veneers. About a week of laboratory time is usually needed to construct your veneers.
How do I know whether I will like the way my new veneers look? Computer imaging can be used to digitally replicate your teeth and create images of the proposed changes. Models of your teeth can be cast and changes can be made in white wax for your preview. Temporary veneers can also be fabricated as a test drive before the final veneers are fabricated.
How long will porcelain veneers last? Veneers can last 20 years or more. They are very strong but like glass, they can break if extreme force is applied to them. You should avoid such activities as opening bottles, cracking nuts, or biting into candy apples with your veneers.
How do I look after my new veneers? Once the veneers are placed, you should continue daily brushing and flossing. There is no higher incidence of decay around them than with your natural teeth. However, the more dental work you have in your mouth, the more vigilant you need to be. Of course, keeping your sugar consumption low helps to protect all of your teeth from decay.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about porcelain laminate veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced with Porcelain Veneers.”